Have you ever seen a baby hippopotamus? If not, get to Googling because they are distinctly adorable. Their chubby adorable bodies are so squishable that you’d wish you could have one as a pet.
Well, you kind of can. Not an actual baby hippopotamus. That’s probably dangerous and illegal. But you can have a “skinny pig” as a pet. The skinny pig is neither skinny nor a pig.
Skinny pigs are a mostly hairless guinea pig breed known as Cavia porcellus.
They pretty much look like super mini hippopotami.
And who wouldn’t want a mini hippo as a pet? Lots of people!
Including some who actually believed that “house hippos” were a thing after watching a PSA from the Concerned Children’s Advertisers.
They made a fake commercial about “House Hippos” to remind viewers that what you see on TV isn’t always real.
While house hippos aren’t real, skinny pigs are and it’s basically the same thing. Skinny pigs have a few patches of fur across their face and legs but are pretty much hairless.
Because of this, they are indoor pets that require warmth and protection, according to Squeaks and Nibbles.
Skinny pigs aren’t a naturally occurring species.
They were created by scientists to be used for research after the mutation for hairlessness was discovered. The lack of hair made them easier to experiment on.
Skinny pigs are a touch smaller than the average guinea pig, due to their hairlessness, weight between 1 to 2 lbs., and measure about 9 to 12 inches.
They vary in coloring due to the ancestors that had hair. So, if you mate a red-haired guinea pig with a hairless albino guinea pig you could get hairless, red-skinned skinny pigs.
The most common skinny pigs are black and “Dalmation” skinny pigs.
The skinny pig has been gaining popularity as a house pet over the years in Europe and North America.
Skinny pigs are known to be “highly social” creatures and are happiest when they have a companion whether it’s a skinny pig or a hairy guinea pig.
Skinny pigs require space to roam around their living spaces and need to have blankets and warm materials around since their hairlessness makes them susceptible to the cold.
It’s best to use soft material like fleece bedding rather than wood chips in a skinny pig cage.
They are also prone to getting scratches and dermatitis since they don’t have hair to protect their skin.
But that lack of hair also means they don’t have to be bathed as often. Skinny pigs are believed to have an average life span of about five to seven years.
So, before getting yourself a skinny pig, you’ll want to make sure you can provide them with the proper care. You should also consider if you want to be encouraging the breeding of a potentially less healthy alternative to the guinea pig.
“In our opinion, the best way to buy a baby guinea pig is to choose one that has been bred with health as the number one priority. The same is true for any animal, of any breed,” Squeaks and Nibbles advises. “So, it might be best not to choose one bred simply for the color, the coat, or the lack thereof. But, instead to choose for the betterment of the breed. And of course, to provide the best quality of life for the new baby.”
You can learn more about skinny pigs here.